When Dubai-based Rohan Bhattacharjee welcomed his first baby with his wife of 13 years last September, he never imagined his joy would turn to sorrow so quickly.
Baby Santhoshi was born with a condition called patent ductus arteriosus, more commonly known as a hole in the heart.
Despite her tiny size and being just days old, her parents were told she needed urgent open-heart surgery to repair the cardiac malformation.
On top of their already mounting stress, Mr Bhattacharjee found out the procedure was going to cost Dh60,000.
“Santhoshi is my first child after 13 years of marriage. I was thrilled to have her,” despite facing financial problems due to the pandemic, he told The National.
“Our joy turned to sadness when they told us about her condition.”
Working as an accountant on a reduced salary because of company cutbacks during the pandemic, the Bangladeshi father-of-one said he could not afford the cost of surgery.
“We then discovered that she had two holes in her heart,” he said.
“My baby girl had a serious problem with her heart. She had difficulty breathing, she was not gaining weight and we were so scared to lose her with every passing minute without treatment.
“I thought I would never see her alive again.”
His situation grew more desperate as he did not receive his salary for three months. As a result, he was forced to knock on the doors of several charities in Dubai for help, but his pleas went unanswered.
A friend then suggested he approach the Al Jalila Foundation for support. In November last year he contacted the foundation with details of his daughter’s condition and the costs associated with the life-saving surgery she needed.
“The people from Al Jalila Foundation were very helpful. They asked me to present documents about my baby’s situation and immediately agreed to provide financial support,” he said.
The foundation listed Santhoshi under its treatment support programme A’awen that provides financial medical assistance to UAE-based patients in need.
Within a month, in December last year, Santhoshi underwent successful open-heart surgery and is now steadily on the road to recovery.
“We cannot express our appreciation enough. We are forever grateful that we were given the chance to be a happy family again,” he said.
“Today our baby is healthy and always smiling thanks to the support from Al Jalila Foundation and the community members.”
Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, chief executive of the foundation, told The National that community donations play a huge part in transforming people's lives.
“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to grow up healthy, happy and realise their potential,” said Dr Al Olama.
“We are so grateful to our partners and donors who rally together to support patients like Santhoshi and help alleviate the financial burden on their families.
“We are delighted to hear Santhoshi is recovering well after her heart surgery and wish her a bright future ahead.”